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Miles Stair's SURVIVAL
INDEX & JET STREAM
Potassium Iodide (SSKI)
ONE MINERAL CAN HELP A MYRIAD OF
FROM ATHEROSCLEROSIS TO "COPD"TO ZITS
Tahoma Clinic Dispensary
Potassium Iodide (SSKI); 1 oz (1250 drops) $28.00; Phone
Toll-free 1 (888) 893-6878
(As of 4.06.09)
(Reprinted From "Nutrition and Healing")
If you've read or heard anything at all about potassium
iodide, it's probably been in association with terrorist
attacks or nuclear power plant disasters. Potassium
iodide (usually taken in tablet form) is recommended by
"public health" authorities to protect the thyroid gland
against accumulation of radioactive iodine released by a
"terrorist bomb" or by nuclear power plant "meltdown".
But in reality, potassium iodide is a very effective
"home remedy" with literally dozens of uses.
Older readers may remember Mother putting "iodine" on
cuts and scrapes. It kept infection away as well as any
"modern" antibiotic ointment, with the added benefit of
not inducing "bacterial resistance". But what else is
potassium iodide (usually abbreviated by it's Latin
initials "SSKI") good for? Read on and then make sure to
read the separate section about keeping SSKI use safe.
Some years ago, a retired Indian physician told me about his use of
SSKI during more than 30 years traveling from village to village in
rural Africa. Most usually, the only drinking water available was from
a local stream or river, muddy and contaminated. After removing
sediment and debris by straining the dirty water through cheesecloth,
he'd add several drops of SSKI, and wait two to three minutes. He and
his team could then drink the water. In over 30 years, he never got an
infection from contaminated water. The SSKI killed any micro-organisms
Fortunately, the water available to most of us when traveling is
considerably cleaner. Despite this, when Holly (my wife) and I travel,
we always carry a small bottle of SSKI, and put one or two drops into
any water we're not absolutely certain about. We've cut back
considerably on airline travel this year because of the thoroughly un-
American and extremely unpleasant "airport Gestapo" experience. But
when we're forced to travel by air, we drink a few ounces of water
with 10 drops of SSKI, and prevent any "airline sinusitis" or other
respiratory infection that so often follows several hours spent
breathing re-cycled, germ laden air. (SSKI rapidly accumulates in any
and all body secretions, including in the sinuses, where it inhibits
or kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi before they can cause an
Although Holly has never had the experience, occasionally another
woman at one of the conferences we attend has developed a bladder
infection when far away from home and her own physician. Holly gives
her our "back- up" small bottle of SSKI with instructions to take 10
to 15 drops in water or juice every 3 to 4 hours (while awake) until
the infection is gone.
[Although SSKI is close to 100% effective in the elimination of
bladder infections, this is a "high dose";
make sure to read the section "Keeping SSKI safe". If possible,
it's best to use the simple sugar D-mannose to eliminate bladder
infections. D-mannose is effective over 90% of the time, and is very,
very safe. For details, see D- mannose and Bladder Infection by Lane
Lenard Ph. D. and me, available through the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.]
When our children were teenagers, they always knew where to find the
SSKI bottle. Whenever one of them "popped a zit", she or he would rub
SSKI into it every hour or two. The offending "zit" would be gone in
24-48 hours or less; an innumerable number of social events were
rendered "zit-free" by this approach.
So far, I've been telling you about SSKI's ability to "kill germs" in
one place or another. We'll return to this important "home remedy" use
for SSKI, but let's digress for now to other uses.
Many women develop "fibrocystic breast disease". In the 1970s, I
learned from pioneering trace element researcher Dr. John Myers that
iodine (a close "relative" of SSKI) would eliminate even the most
severe cases of fibrocystic breast disease. [For the full details of
this treatment, see pages 169-174 of The Patient's Book of Natural
Healing by Alan Gaby M. D. and me.] In "medium" to "minor" cases, 6 to
8 drops of SSKI taken in a few ounces of water daily will frequently
reduce fibrocystic breast disease to insignificance within three to
six months. Please do not do this without monitoring your thyroid
function see "Keeping SSKI Safe".
One of our daughters and at least thirty other women I've worked with
in nearly 30 years have helped ovarian cysts disappear within two to
three months with the same quantity of SSKI. Again, make sure to
monitor your thyroid function!
It's very likely that SSKI helps eliminate fibrocystic breast disease
and ovarian cysts at least partly through it's interaction with
estrogens .which brings us to another important use for SSKI (and
other forms of iodine such as "Lugol's solution" and "di-atomic
iodine"). All of these forms of iodine help your body to metabolize
estrone (a slightly carcinogenic human estrogen) and
16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (a much more dangerous metabolite of human
estrogen) into estriol, an "anti-carcinogenic" or at worst "neutral"
form of human estrogen. I've reviewed literally hundreds of hormone
tests in over 26 years which have proven this point. This testing and
treatment usually requires the help of a physician skilled and
knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine, who can also help
with monitoring thyroid function. (See "Resources", page 8).
"Dupuytren's contracture" and "Peyronie's disease" are two "fibrotic"
conditions that can be helped considerably by SSKI. In Dupuytren's
contracture, thickening (fibrosis) occurs along one of the tendons in
the palm in the hand, pulling the related finger down towards the
palm. As the problem progresses, the finger often can't be
straightened any more.
In Peyronie's disease, a very similar thickening occurs along the
shaft of the penis, making erections increasing "curved" and painful.
In both cases, rubbing SSKI into the thickened tissue at least twice
daily softens and lessens the fibrotic area over a period of several
months, allowing for more normal function.
For these conditions, it's additionally helpful to take
para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) 2 grams, three times daily, and to rub a
mixture of Vitamin E and DMSO into the thickened areas, also. However,
if "caught early", SSKI alone will often "do the job". (It's also
advisable to have glucose-insulin tolerance test done, as there's an
unusually high incidence of "insulin resistance" in people with
Dupuytren's contracture or Peyronie's disease.
"Keloids" are abnormally thick scars, sometimes as much as an inch
thick, that can form after injury. Although anyone can get a keloid,
they're more common among blacks than other ethnic groups. Rubbing
SSKI into a keloid at least twice daily will ultimately flatten them
down to a "normal scar", but it can take many months to a year for
particularly bad ones. The treatment goes faster if SSKI is mixed
"50-50" with DMSO.
"Fistulas" are literally abnormal tunnels through tissues, "tunnels"
prevented from healing by chronic infection. Two not-unusual types are
"peri-anal fistulas" (a "tunnel" from outside the anus to the inside
of the rectum) and "recto-vaginal" fistulas. Although these fistulas
can be treated successfully by surgery, they can often be healed by
frequent swabbing inside and out with an SSKI-soaked "Q-tip". Patience
is required: Complete healing often takes several months. The
treatment appears to work better if the SSKI is mixed with DMSO, which
enhances "penetrance". My colleague Richard Kunin, M. D. of San
Francisco, is a "world class" expert on the use of SSKI and other
forms of iodine. He has found that hemorrhoids will sometimes
disappear literally overnight, when SSKI (20 drops) mixed with
flaxseed oil (1 ounce) is rubbed in them at bedtime. He's also found
that SSKI alone will do the same job, although it "really stings" when
applied to a hemorrhoid by itself.
When I was a pre-med student at Harvard University, the famous
chemistry professor Louis Feiser made a point of demonstrating to all
the pre-medical students that iodine and iodide would make oils, fats,
and waxes (cholesterol is actually a wax) more soluble in water. He
urged us to remember this in our medical practices, as he was sure it
wouldn't be taught in medical school (he was right!). This known
action of iodide likely explains why SSKI can be useful in the next
Over 30 years ago, two ophthalmologists observed that a combination
tablet called "Iodo-niacin" (iodide 120 milligrams, niacin 15
milligrams) taken for several months could actually reverse
atherosclerotic clogging of arteries. They proved this effect by
taking pictures of clogged arteries in the backs of the eyes ("retinal
photomicrographs") before and after treatment. The published
photographs showed a significant lessening of the cholesterol-laden
artery clogging in the "after" pictures.
Amazingly enough, no follow-up study has ever been published (probably
because niacin and iodide aren't patentable). Despite this, the
published pictures speak clearly for themselves. I recommend 4 to 6
drops of SSKI and niacin-containing B-complex daily (along with many
other things) for anyone with significant cholesterol- related
atherosclerotic clogging. Thyroid function must be monitored!
"Sebaceous cysts" are cysts which contain oily, fatty material. They
usually appear rather suddenly on the face or in the groin or labia.
Rubbing in SSKI mixed 50-50 with DMSO will almost always persuade
these cysts to go away in a week or two; it appears that the iodide
"dissolves" the fatty, oily material contained in the cysts, allowing
your body to slowly re-absorb and dispose of it.
Although it's not a common condition, from time to time someone will
come to my office at Tahoma Clinic inquiring about alternatives to
surgery for "parotid duct stone". These are "stones" which can form in
the saliva-carrying duct(s) from the major salivary glands ("parotid"
glands, located at the "angle of the jaw"). 3 to 4 drops of SSKI taken
in water daily will almost always dissolve parotid duct stones within
four to eight months.
If you have chronic bronchitis and or emphysema ("COPD", "COLD") SSKI
is an invaluable tool. SSKI "gets into" all body secretions, including
often thick and hard to cough up bronchial secretions, which get
infected very easily. SSKI takes care of both of these problems. It
"loosens" secretions remarkably, making them much easier to "clear",
and it prevents micro-organisms from growing easily. With regular SSKI
use, bronchial infection is a much less frequent happening. Depending
on the severity of COPD, I recommend 3 to 6 drops of SSKI taken in
water once daily. As COPD is usually a chronic condition, SSKI use
will usually be indefinite, so make sure to monitor your thyroid
function! (See the August 2002 Nutrition & Healing for a more complete
discussion of natural COPD treatment.)
Now, back to other infections. For this group, using SSKI mixed
"50-50" with DMSO works better, as the DMSO enables SSKI to penetrate
much more deeply into the tissues and kill germs.
Infected "hangnails" are perhaps the easiest to clear up this way, as
are nagging bacterial infections around the edges of the toenails. Rub
in the mixture several times daily, and the problem's usually gone in
a few days. Herpes simplex ("herpes") ourbreaks can be "stopped cold"
in the same way, but it often takes longer for the "sore" to heal
If you have persistent "swollen glands" in the throat or groin areas,
see a doctor first! These can very rarely be signs of leukemia,
lymphoma, or another cancer, especially in older people. But if all
tests and studies are negative, and the doctor says "it's just swollen
glands", rub in the SSKI with DMSO. In a large majority of cases, the
"just swollen glands" will gradually fade away.
Fungus under the toenails ("onychomycosis") is a difficult problem to
treat. Even "conventional" anti-fungal drug treatment takes months to
work, and (for safety) monthly liver function tests are necessary.
SSKI and DMSO rubbed on, around, and under the affected toenails
doesn't work any faster, but it's just as effective, and definitely
safer. Make sure to wear old socks, because SSKI and other forms of
iodine leave an orange-brown stain. (Other safe and effective
alternatives include geranium oil, oregano oil, and tea tree oil.
These and other anti-fungal oils also require "help" from DMSO to
penetrate the toenail and soak the fungus underneath.)
SSKI can also help clear up vaginal infections. 20 to 30 drops in
water, used in a small "douche" once daily for five to ten days will
usually do the job. (There's actually a prescription-only iodine
preparation of available for vaginal infections, too.) However, iodine
preparations of any sort for vaginal infections are often not popular
because of the inevitable orange-brown stains they leave on clothing.
What about SSKI to help a "weak" thyroid (hypothyroidism)? Even though
iodine and iodide are absolutely essential to thyroid hormone
formation, in most "developed" countries, hypothyroid conditions are
not usually due to an outright lack of iodine or iodide. Still,
hypothyroidism is occasionally helped by 1 drop of SSKI daily. Make
sure to work with your doctor on this one!
Lastly, there's a gastronomic use for SSKI: reducing the gas we all
get from eating beans! If you're soaking beans before cooking them,
add 1 or 2 drops of SSKI, and let them soak for an hour or more. (Pour
offf that water before cooking, and add fresh water.) You'll be
surprised at the reduction in resulting intestinal gas! (For those who
want a technical explanation: There's a naturally occurring enzyme
inhibitor in beans which interferes with starch digestion, producing
gas. SSKI inactivates this enzyme inhibitor.)
In the past, SSKI and other forms of iodine and iodide were available
only on prescription, or through chemical supply sources. Since the
mid-1990s passage of the Federal DSHEA law, we've regained the basic
American freedom to buy and sell natural substances (narcotics
exempted) without prescription. You haven't read or heard much about
SSKI because (despite Federal Appeals Court decisions) FDA still
maintains it's First Amendment violating policy of complete
suppression of truthful product use information on package labels or
in advertisements .unless of course FDA is paid an enormous amount of
money ($250 million minimum, according to Congressional testimony) for
"approval". Since SSKI can't be patented well, you know the rest.
SSKI can be obtained without prescription in some compounding
pharmacies, some health food stores, through "on-line" sources, and at
the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary (with which I am of course affiliated) in
a convenient travel-size dropper bottle.
USE SSKI SAFELY!!
There are three "hazards" to using SSKI: staining, allergy, and
a very small possibility of thyroid suppression with longer-term use
of "too much".
Staining can be a big nuisance, but it's not a health hazard.
When SSKI is applied to skin, it can impart a faint to moderate
orange-brown color, which fades away once SSKI is no longer being
applied. SSKI and other iodine stains in clothing can be
semi-permanent or permanent, so don't plan to wear anything "nice" in
the vicinity of recently-applied SSKI.
Iodine allergy is a possibility, although in nearly 30 years of
medical practice I've seen it only a few times. Usually, it causes a
red, bumpy skin rash, which goes away after SSKI or other iodine is
discontinued. Topical (applied to the skin surface) iodine allergy is
almost never a serious emergency.
SSKI or iodine can very occasionally cause acne, which also goes away
once the source of iodine is dicontinued.
The type of so-called "iodine allergy" that can interfere with
breathing and occasionally sends us to the emergency room is usually
not allergy to iodine or iodine molecules, but instead to much larger,
possibly iodine- containing molecules found in lobster, crab, clams
and other "shellfish". These molecules are not present in SSKI or
iodine. However, if there's any suspicion at all of iodine allergy,
it's best not to swallow any without testing for allergy or
Too much iodine for too long can suppress thyroid function.
Many of the uses described for SSKI in the accompanying article are
short-term, from a few days or less to a week or two. If SSKI is then
stopped, there's almost no chance of significant thyroid suppression.
However, if SSKI is to be used for two to three weeks or longer, and
especially if it's to be used continuously (for example, COPD or
cholesterol-related atherosclerosis) monitoring thyroid function is
very important. To find a physician near you who can help order and
interpret thyroid function tests, consult the Resources section on
Fortunately, in my experience with over a thousand individuals,
internal use of than nine drops or less of SSKI daily has very rarely
resulted in thyroid suppression. On those very few occasions,
discontinuance has resulted in prompt recovery. So far, I've never
seen thyroid suppression result from "topical" (skin surface) use of
A final "safety" note: Dr. Kunin cautions (and I agree) that if you
use SSKI or other iodine "long-term", make sure your diet contains
plenty of essential fatty acids (both omega-3 and omega-6) as well as
the sulfur- containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. If you eat
animal protein daily, that's usually sufficient as a source of these
two amino acids, but if you're vegetarian (or close) and using "long
term" SSKI or other iodine, then take 300-500 milligrams of each
IODINE, IODIDE, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Iodine is a basic element, as are calcium, zinc, oxygen and other
elements. The word "iodine" usually refers to two iodine molecules
chemically "stuck together" (I2), just as the word "oxygen" usually
refers to two oxygen molecules "stuck together" (O2). Since iodine is
more reactive, and therefore more likely to cause problems, iodine is
usually used as "iodide", a word which refers to one iodine molecule
combined with another molecule such as potassium (KI) or sodium (NaI).
In chemical terms, such molecules are called "salts"; the best known
salt is sodium chloride (NaCl), a "salt" of chlorine (Cl2).
The "SS" in "SSKI" refers to "Saturated Solution Potassium Iodide".
Other medically useful forms of iodine include "Lugol's solution",
invented by Dr. Lugol of Paris in the 1840s, which contains a mixture
of types of iodine and iodide, and "di-atomic iodine", which is
another name for iodine, but usually prepared as a solid in a capsule
instead of a liquid.